If there is one thing we have learned from the pandemic, it is that our lives irremediably depend on that invisible network called the Internet. The massive use of digital devices has reopened the debate on the pros and cons of such an all-encompassing media exposure. However, we tend to give little account of an important aspect, which concerns the risks we run on the web and the related consequences.
In short, people are still paying little attention to how the Internet can affect their reputation, whether at a corporate or a personal level.
Some companies do just that. Like ReputationUP, a leading international company located in Italy and founded by the Venetian entrepreneur Andrea Baggio, operating in the online reputation industry for 26 years.
We spoke with ReputationUP CEO for Europe, Andrea Baggio, to better understand the risks of the Internet and its effects on reputation.
The Internet is a tool accessible to all. It is often said, but what does it mean?
The Internet is the revolution of the millennium, and its potential is almost unlimited. Let’s start with the fact that everyone can use it and in any way. Precisely for this reason, it is a double-edged sword. Social networks, for example, are now places of interaction where people carry on their conversations. Well, the question concerns not only social networks but the web in general.
And what does this change of perspective imply?
Before the Internet, the reach of your claims was at most neighborhood gossip, but now it’s more damaging. Unlike print media, what you say online remains and can be shared by millions of people with one click. Furthermore, it can be disseminated and amplified through various media channels. It all serves to build your online reputation. I mean videos and photos, but also reviews, be they positive or negative.
With the negative ones, however, you run the risk of falling into the field of online defamation.
Yes, it is slippery ground. Sometimes people express their opinions with excessive carelessness, without worrying about their impact on others.
It seems that there is an important distinction to be made, which concerns the two basic concepts of ‘true’ and ‘false’.
Exactly. A negative criticism, albeit ferocious, but based on objective and factual criteria, can always be admitted. Every entrepreneur should be able to exploit criticism as an opportunity for growth. Another thing is the crime of online defamation, which consists of offending online honor and reputation by sharing insults or false news on the web. Let’s go back to the starting point; if everyone has a chance to say what they think, then anyone can leave a review or comment. However, this does not mean that it corresponds to the truth.
So, how can we counter this phenomenon which is an actual crime?
Social networks and review platforms or forums should have stricter protection policies towards consumers and service providers. But this is not always the case: Google provides a removal request form for its channels; of course, the State also offers means to defend oneself, both through reporting to the Police department and the text’s implementation on the Right to be forgotten. However, in all these cases, the waiting times are very long, while these are problems that require a quick, or better, immediate response.
This is where ReputationUP comes in.
That’s right. By contacting online reputation specialists, you can count on a double service. On the one hand, we act in keeping a clean reputation, whereby we proceed with the removal or de-indexing of defamatory content. On the other hand, we work to rebuild or strengthen the positive reputation.
As for companies, what are the concrete consequences they might face?
I give two figures so that we understand the extent of the problem. According to the ReputationUP Study Center research, 93% of consumers base their purchasing choices on online reviews. Consequently, a company with 4 or more negative reviews in Google searches risks being excluded from the choices. Therefore, negative comments trigger a chain reaction that produces a plunge in site views and sales.
How does ReputationUP operate in this case?
ReputationUP offers protection services in the event of a reputational attack, with systematic studies and research that allow immediate action, eliminating and managing false and harmful content on the network. For instance, the RepUP Monitoring Tool software ensures an immediate reaction thanks to the continuous monitoring of the surface web, Deep Web and Dark Web. Timely action is essential to counter the reputational crisis that online defamation could trigger.